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Forest of Whispers

by Jennifer Murgia

Series: Forest of Whispers (1)

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233810,942 (3.58)None
"Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago... and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting. Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to--one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder--a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe."--Provided by publisher.… (more)
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Synopsis

This book centers around Rune, a mysterious girl who lives beyond the hedge with an old lady. The old lady is whispered to be a witch, a fortune teller and healer of all maladies. Rune has lived with her since she was a baby, never knowing much about her past but desires to know more. After accidentally misidentifying a mushroom, Rune suddenly finds herself in the middle of a witch hut. The old lady bids Rune to run far away, not to look back, and under no circumstances to return to the cottage or town. Instead of running, Rune hides, and returns later to witness the old lady’s sentencing. With all of her family gone, Rune is alone. Or is she?

A mysterious voice comes to Rune in the forest. Her mother. She learns she is a witch, and her mother wants revenge. Rune battles against her, while also fighting to live through this witch hunt. With the help of a handsome, young man, Rune is able to uncover secrets about her past. She discovers who she is, what she is, and what her inheritance will be. With the help of the young man, Rune is able to complete her mission, find herself, and come to terms with her new self.

My thoughts
If you are a fan of historical books, and a bit of magic, this will be right up your alley. Mind you, this is not your Harry Potter type of magic. It’s more of a Practical Magic type. More subtle, seamlessly written in, and not all up in your face. It does help that the main character doesn’t really want to be a witch. It gives it more of a realistic tone. I mean, if you lived way back when witches were feared, would you want to find out that you can do magical things? Yeah. Me either.

The book is set in Germany, near Bavaria, and has a few German words in it. Don’t let these scare you off! There is a handy guide at the beginning of the book that tells you the right pronunciation, and gives the definition of these words. Most of them are simple enough that with just the context, you can figure them out. There is a bit of romance in here too. It’s an innocent type, and isn’t cheesy or overly done. It’s classy. Speaking of the writing, this book keeps you interested. Right away I was drawn in, and hooked. Never once did I feel like a chapter was there just for filler time. It’s smart, and has an ending you might not be able to guess. I sure didn’t see it coming, which is a big deal. Normally I can guess the ending by the middle of the book. Not this one.

Honestly, I really liked this book. Since finishing it, I haven’t been able to pick up any thing else. Do hope to get a sequel to the story! I’d love to see where Rune goes from here and how she grows into her own person. ( )
  Rebecca_Hail | Jan 3, 2015 |
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley. This book sounded so interesting and magical. However, I was a bit disappointed. It’s an okay story but there wasn’t anything in here all that creative that really grabbed my attention.

Rune is a young girl who lives in the forest and is a Hedge Witch's apprentice. When the Hedge Witch is burned at the stake for perceived evils, Rune flees into the forest. There she bumps into a young man, Laurentz, with a very sick mother. He is convinced that she can help him. However, she flees before he can talk to her and is captured by Inquisitors and imprisoned. Now Laurentz is trying to find Rune and rescue her so that she can help him.

This book deals with witch hunts in Germany. There is a bit of a fantasy element as well since the main character, Rune, appears to really have some supernatural powers.

Everything about this book fell flat for me. The story was boring, it takes 25% or so of the book before we even get to the part when Rune’s home is destroyed and she flees her house. You would think the story would get suspenseful or engaging, some truly awful things happen in this book. However, there just wasn’t enough description or momentum to really grab the reader’s attention. I constantly found my mind wandering. I don’t know how this book made me feel ambivalent toward the murders of young girls and infants...but it really did.

Rune and Laurentz have got to be some of the most bland characters I have ever read about. They just don’t have any passion or excitement to them. I didn’t care what happened to them. They felt so 2D to me.

It’s also not a very creative story. There are no twists and turns, you know exactly how things are going to play out right from the beginning. The “twist” about Rune’s original family felt contrived and silly.

The writing flows well and the story wraps up nicely. However, it was a very short and simple story and the ending felt very rushed.

Overall this book was very forgettable read. The writing flowed well, but the characters and the plot all fell flat for me. The story was just not exciting or engaging. Some horrific things happen in this book, but because of how the book was written I was more ambivalent to them than drawn in. I was actually hard pressed to even remember the names of the characters by the end of the book. It’s an interesting topic done in a very boring way. Not recommended. ( )
  krau0098 | Sep 7, 2014 |
Forest of Whispers is set in the villages and forest of Bavaria, in a time of fear brought on by the spreading plague and the witches that wield their magic in the forest. The fear of the unknown is beginning to give way to hysteria, placing the blame at the hands of a mysterious young girl who was raised in the forest by a crone. The villagers have surreptiously gone to the girl and the crone in the forest for years... for potions and fortunes and herbal healing. But now fear is spreading and where better to lay the blame for things that are going wrong with the world?

The author's writing is beautiful, vivid in its emotions and descriptions. The dangerous beauty of the forest is easily imaginable. The fear and desperation of the villagers is palpable. The bleakness of the witch prison is horrifying to envision. It is the kind of book that just draws you in and keeps you there. While the story itself is fiction, the settings are real places, making the story that much more believable.

Rune is our girl of the forest, raised in the woods by Mathilde, the crone. At first, I found it a little hard to connect to her. We aren't quite sure who she is, what her story is, and the mystery distances her. But when we start to learn more about her and how she came to be where she is now, that connection is forged. Laurentz is her love interest, the epitome of the boy from another world. He is of noble descent, destined for political greatness. Yet he risks it all for a girl he meets only by chance at an awkward moment.

The points of view flipped between Rune and Laurentz, allowing us to really know both of these characters. We discovered Rune's story right along with her and there were so many things that happened that I didn't expect to see. Laurentz had his own story that was just as important as Rune's. Their stories wove together in some very interesting ways, giving us a side of the story that we wouldn't have been able to get if we were dependant on Rune alone.

Things to love...

--The weaving of the real and the imagined
--The vivid imagery and emotions
--The twists and turns

My Recommendation: This is a beautiful and well-written book. If you enjoy the magic and fantasy associated with the early 1600's, you will enjoy this read! ( )
  Kiki870 | Sep 4, 2014 |
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"Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago... and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting. Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to--one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder--a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe."--Provided by publisher.

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